After a lengthy wait, the Blue Jays officially announced their signing of free-agent reliever Darren Oliver earlier this morning. To clear a spot on the previously-full 40-man roster, Mark Teahen was designated for assignment.
Not far off from our prediction, Oliver will earn $4 million in 2012 with a $3 million club option for the 2013 campaign. Though it wasn’t mentioned in the bluejays.com article, the 2013 option comes with a $500,000 buyout according to Tim Dierkes of MLB Trade Rumors.
A veteran of 17 major league seasons, Oliver provides the Jays with another late-inning relief option but also a more dependable left-handed arm than Luis Perez, the only other southpaw currently in the Jays’ pen.
In terms of relievers, Oliver has been as dependable as they come. He has thrown at least 50 innings in each of his past six seasons — fashioning a tidy 2.97 ERA over that span — but his 2011 campaign at 40 years old was actually the best of his career. In 51 innings for the Rangers last season, he managed a career-low 2.29 ERA (2.77 FIP) and established career-lows in home runs with three (0.5 HR/9) and walks with 11 (1.9 BB/9).
But according to John Lott of the National Post, Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos was sold just as much on Oliver’s character and potential clubhouse impact as he was on his ability to pitch.
“Darren has probably one of the best reputations in the game as a human being, as a teammate, [for his] work ethic [and] character,” Anthopoulos says in the article. “These are all things that can really help, especially around a young team.”
As for Teahen, the throw-in portion of the deal with the Chicago White Sox during the summer that set the framework for the Jays’ acquisition of Colby Rasmus in July, there was just little room for him on a crowded Jays roster, especially after the team acquired outfielder Ben Francisco last month. Teahen could have played multiple positions for the Jays in 2012, but after hitting a career-worst .200/.273/.300 in 78 games this past season between the White Sox and Jays, his bat was another reason not to keep him around.
As it stands right now, the Jays are still on the hook for Teahen’s $5.5 million salary next season. Though he’s highly unlikely to get anything done, Anthopoulos is likely trying to trade Teahen elsewhere to off-set at least part of his cost.
Despite the news, Teahen took the high road on his Twitter account, tweeting “BlueJays are a class org. Players & Coaches r great & Alex A is a man of his word. Excited 4 bigger role elsewhere but thankful 4 time n TO.”